Maybe you’ve heard: Coretta Scott King is in the news. Last night, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (#LetLizSpeak) was repuked (spelling error; we mean rebuked) for reading aloud a letter Mrs. King wrote in 1986 to the U.S. Judiciary Committee opposing Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’s nomination for a federal judgeship. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge.” Sessions is Trump’s current nominee for U.S. Attorney General.
In 1969, the Coretta Scott King Book Award was founded, in Mrs. King’s name, to honor the work of African American children’s book creators. From the American Library Association’s website: “The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.”
If you have a little time and want some real inspiration, peruse the Coretta Scott King Awards speeches (published in The Horn Book Magazine), interviews, articles, and more. (Also, Horn Book executive editor Martha V. Parravano is currently serving on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards jury, and you can read our Five Questions with Martha and her you-are-there conference report detailing the Youth Media Awards announcement.)
Below is a booklist of titles about Coretta Scott King’s life and good works.
All of the following titles were recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide at the time of their publication; reviews are reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.
Coretta Scott King booklist
Henry, Sondra and Taitz, Emily Coretta Scott King: Keeper of the Dream
YA 128 pp. Enslow 1992
Paperback ISBN 0-89490-334-9
Contemporary Women series. A straightforward, well-researched account of Coretta Scott King’s life, from childhood to the present. This remarkably candid biography not only captures Mrs. King’s mission to keep her husband’s dream alive, but also provides insight into her personal commitment for peace and justice. Bib., ind.
King, Coretta Scott My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.
YA 335 pp. Holt 1969
Trade ISBN 0-8050-2445-X
Coretta Scott King reaches for young readers unacquainted with the struggles of the civil-rights era and the philosophy of nonviolence advocated by her late husband. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, her memoir of him is warm, personal, and honest. Of particular appeal is her voice in the chapters devoted to her early life and the remarkable picture of family life with Dr. King and their children. Occasionally, King injects words of wisdom and advice to the reader. Yet, she accomplishes her goal — a reflection on the man and the movement. Ind.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Lyon, George Ella Voices from the March on Washington
Gr. 4–6 114 pp. Boyds/Wordsong 2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-62091-785-5
Poets Lewis and Lyon here give voice to a cross-section of the 250,000 participants of the 1963 March on Washington: from first grader Ruby May Hollingsworth and Aki Kimura, a Japanese American sent to an internment camp during WWII, to Coretta Scott King. Many fine works on the civil rights movement are available; this adds the power of poetic imagination. Reading list, websites. Bib., ind.
Medearis, Angela Shelf Dare to Dream: Coretta Scott King and the Civil Rights Movement
Gr. 4–6 60 pp. Lodestar 1994
Trade ISBN 0-525-67426-8
Rainbow Biography series. Illustrated by Anna Rich. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs and drawings, this portrait of Coretta Scott King relies strongly on her memoir, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. (Holt). Pivotal events of the civil-rights movement, her husband’s leadership, and her active role in promoting his mission are highlighted in the brief, readable biography. Bib., ind.
Rhodes, Lisa Renee Coretta Scott King
Gr. 4–6 143 pp. Chelsea 1998
Library binding ISBN 0-7910-4690-7
Paperback ISBN 0-7910-4691-5
Black Americans of Achievement series. Rhodes describes the major events in Coretta Scott King’s early life that provided her with the quiet strength that would serve her well through the civil rights movement, her husband’s assassination, and her life as a widow and activist. The text details her leadership in areas of peace and nuclear disarmament, presenting her as more than an appendage of her legendary husband. Photos and a chronology are included. Bib., ind.
Shange, Ntozake Coretta Scott
Gr. K–3 32 pp. HarperCollins/Amistad/Tegen 2009
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-125364-5
Library binding ISBN 978-0-06-125365-2
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Shange’s spare, poetic text sketches the life of Coretta Scott King. The story begins with her childhood, when she had to walk five miles each way to school, then moves to her leadership role as partner to Martin Luther King Jr. in life and within the civil rights movement. Nelson’s gorgeous oil paintings capture the essence of the woman and her times.